Facebook and Work: An Unlikely Partnership

05 Mar, 2015 |

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Believe it or not, there used to be a time when Facebook was used as a productivity tool.

Those were simpler times.

Back when Facebook originally launched, it was designed only for college students, requiring them to submit a school email in order to create an account. In fact, it’s a good age indicator if someone you know logs into Facebook with an email ending with “.edu”; chances are they were in college sometime during 2004-2006.

Long before there were timelines, sponsored posts, and candy crush invites, students used Facebook primarily to collaborate with other students in and out of the classroom.  It was common for classmates working together in a group project to create their own Facebook group as a communication hub throughout the duration of the project. If users wanted to distract themselves a few minutes with a bit of gossip, myspace.com was the place for that, as Facebook only distracted you with the occasional “Poke” from a friend or a crush.

Of course nowadays, Facebook and Productivity have become completely disassociated with each other.

When Facebook decided to shift their efforts on creating streams of revenue, that’s when it bacame the hotbed of distraction that it is today.  Love it or hate it, Facebook has become such a widespread and massively accepted social media giant,  as well as the number one most banned domain in corporate internet networks.

With its reputation as a time waster, it came as a bit of a surprise when Facebook announced the  unveiling of a new product designed specifically for enterprises and large organizations. The new app, available online and in the iTunes and Android stores is called “Facebook at Work” and it is currently in the beta stage.

Social technology continues to be a rapidly evolving part of the modern workplace. There is an increasing amount of online software already  available for enterprises that help keep track of work projects, timelines, team members, and deadlines.

A few standouts

SLACK– An online and mobile app that tries to streamline all your workplace communication in one place.

BASECAMP-, a simple to use application that breaks down projects of any size into to-do lists.

Websites such as wtdiw.com also provide a wide array of online solutions aimed to facilitate organizational communication, shift scheduling, and labor planning.

Notably, one of the most widely used apps is Asana,  a task management application which was created by Dustin Moskovitz, one of the original founders of Facebook who left the company in 2008 to start this new venture.

Facebook at Work

Facebook faces a different competition field with this launch.

From the get go, they tackle the stigma associated with Facebook by allowing users to create accounts that are separate from their personal accounts, creating networks only within the larger framework of their own organizations.

A subtle change in Facebook at Work is in the color palette. White is the predominant color of the application interface and it serves to differentiate it from the well known blue that is a staple in Facebook’s social media interface, most likely to help keep both networks separate from each other during work hours (in other words, so your boss can know which “Facebook” you are using).

Despite it’s size, Facebook faces many obstacles in the competitive field of enterprise communication tools. The failure of google plus taught us that domination in one market does not guarantee success in another; no matter how much you shove it into your customer’s face.

There is also a growing amount of trust issues with consumers and Facebook when it comes to data privacy. Corporations are right to be concerned about their internal communication and data being compromised in any way.  Facebook’s damage control efforts to protect their reputation will become even more essential if they expect businesses to trust them with their data.

Despite these obstacles, Facebook deserves the benefit of the doubt when predicting the success of this new app not only for  their past success but also because  “Facebook at Work” seems less like a reinvention and more like a return to their roots.